August 26, 2021

Dear Friends,

Below, is the joint letter from the Presbytery of St. Augustine Administrative Commission and the St. Johns Dismissal Committee. You will also find three other documents attached to this page, in this order. The first is The Dismissal Proposal, second is St. Johns Presbyterian Church Members Who Wish to Retain Membership in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A), and the third is Implications for Leaving and Reasons for Staying in the Presbytery of St. Augustine. This is a required notice before the congregational advisory vote on Sunday, September 12, 2021.

St. Johns Presbyterian Church and Presbytery Administrative Commission Joint Notice of Congregational Advisory Vote

Proposed Dismissal to Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians

Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we bring this important message from the Presbytery of St. Augustine and the St. Johns Presbyterian Church.

On Sunday, September 12, 2021, the Presbytery of St. Augustine will call for an advisory vote of this congregation with regard to the proposal for dismissal from the Presbyterian Church (USA) (the PCUSA) to the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO). The Administrative Commission of the presbytery will take into account the number of “Yes” and “No” advisory votes as an additional factor in determining whether to recommend dismissal of St. Johns to ECO.

The vote will take place in person at the church beginning at 8:30 a.m. and continuing until 11:30 a.m., by which time all ballots must be returned. Masks will be required in the areas where the voting takes place and where the votes are counted, except for areas outdoors where social distancing can be maintained. Additional COVID-safety precautions will be taken as agreed by the Administrative Commission and the session of the church.

The ballots will be counted in person by representatives of the church and the presbytery working together. The tabulated results of the advisory vote will be provided to the session clerk of the church, the presbytery stated clerk, and congregation members and visitors present when the results are certified, with the hope that the results can be communicated soon after the worship service is over.

The proposal for dismissal signed by the session and the presbytery is included with this notice, along with two documents prepared by the Administrative Commission of the presbytery: “Implications/Changes for Congregations Leaving the PCUSA” and “Options for Members Desiring to Remain in the PCUSA.” The effective date may vary from the date described in the proposal, with a new tentative date of December 31/January 1, but the other terms to be completed are intended at this time to remain the same.

The customary worship schedule will be followed on the day of the advisory vote. Members must vote in person but do not have to attend an in person worship service to do so. Individuals whose name is on the church’s membership roll will receive a ballot marked “advisory vote” that will include spaces for the member to mark “yes” or “no,” signifying whether the member concurs or does not concur with the proposal that the church be dismissed from the PCUSA and become a congregation of ECO. Only “yes” or “no” may be marked, and any ballots containing caveats, proposed amendments, partial agreements and disagreements, etc. will not be counted. Provisional ballots will be issued to any person requesting a ballot for which there is a question regarding membership status.

On the day of the advisory vote, representatives of the church and the presbytery will be available to answer questions. If you wish to speak to the Administrative Commission before September 12 regarding questions about the proposal or the vote, you may contact the chair of the Administrative Commission, Ben Samuels, at BSamuels@boydjen.com or the clerk of the commission, Jerie Lukefahr, at emailjerie@gmail.com. More specific questions about the process of dismissal in the PCUSA and in this presbytery may be sent to the stated clerk of the presbytery, Sandra Hedrick, at sandra@staugpres.org. If you would like to discuss anything with representatives of St. Johns Presbyterian Church, please contact either the Chair of the Dismissal Group, Jim Nolan, at jnolan@thelilesfirm.com, the Clerk of Session, John Otterson, at john.otterson@iff.com or Pastor Jon Lovelady, at jon@sjpcjax.org.

At the present time, the presbytery intends to place the issue of dismissal on the docket for the Fall Stated Meeting of the Presbytery of St. Augustine scheduled on Zoom on October 5, 2021, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

 The Presbytery of St. Augustine  

St. Johns Dismissal Group

Attached Documents:

  1. The Dismissal Proposal
  2. St. Johns Church Members who Wish to Retain Membership in the Presbyterian Church (USA)
  3. Implications for Leaving and Reasons for Staying in the Presbytery of St. Augustine